Stabbing death startles SE Portland neighbors

Find out why some neighbors say this homicide shocked them – and why others say they weren’t at all surprised – as a man was found dead on this residential sidewalk …

Police officers wait for word that the homicide suspect has been taken into custody.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In the swirl of activity surrounding Portland Mayor Sam Adams firing of Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer, and taking the Bureau away from Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, along with the appointment of East Precinct Commander Michael Reese to the Police Chief’s post – plus an officer-involved shooting near Lloyd Center, all on the same day – this tragic story didn’t make headlines on May 12.

But, on that same day, just before 6:00 p.m., the 9-1-1 Center got a call reporting that a man lay dying in SE Steele Street near SE 74th Avenue.

Neighbors watch as police officers and homicide detectives try to unravel the mystery of the man who lay dead in the 7400 block of SE Steele Street.

SERT callout canceled
Portland Police officers rushed into the area, cordoned off the scene, and started looking for a suspect. One officer said witnesses told police they thought the suspect was carrying a gun; commanders issued a Special Emergency Response Team callout to contain the situation.

But, moments later the call of “Code Zero” hit the police airwaves – meaning that a police officer had been struck down – and the SERT response sped to the Lloyd Center area – leaving district officers to deal with what appeared to be a homicide in SE Portland.

At the scene, we were advised to stay clear of an opening between a ramshackle apartment building and houses on SE Insley Street, a block south of SE Steele Street, on SE 74th.

We got this advice from a serious-faced officer carrying an AK-47 rifle.

We complied.

Concerned neighbors wait out the search
While officers looked for “persons of interest”, neighbors waited outside the surrounding two city block area, which had been cordoned off with yellow police-line tape.

“I didn’t know if he was drunk and just passed out when I walked by,” said Jaroam Greene, who confided that he’d walked past the victim. “But, it really shakes me up to find out the guy is dead. Someone said he got shot; but someone else said the guy was stabbed.”

Another man told television reporters that he saw “a young guy carry an older guy out of the apartments, and dump him in the street”.

Other neighbors in the area said they weren’t so surprised. “This area has really gone downhill,” remarked Mary Johnson, who said she’s a long-time resident of the area. “There’s so much crime, drugs, and drunks here, I’m afraid to go out of my house, even in the daytime.”

We heard what sounded like two gunshots. Soon after, police officers left their posts, looking relaxed. One cop told us they had suspects in custody – but that the scene would be closed down for hours, as homicide detectives began their investigation.

Officers and detectives look down at the homicide victim as they begin their investigation.

Mystery shrouds the murder
Police Bureau spokesman Sergeant Greg Stewart conferred with detectives, and then spoke with the media present, standing by for any word on the incident. “Right now, all that detectives are saying is that there is a deceased male victim.”

At that time, Stewart said he couldn’t confirm how the victim was killed, or any other facts about the situation.

Police say they’ve brought homicide charges against this man, 26-year-old Jason Michael Ojord.

The following day, another Portland Police Bureau spokesperson, Detective Mary Wheat, revealed, “There has been an arrest in this homicide; an individual identified as 26-year-old Jason Ojord.  Ojord was charged with one count of Murder, and will be arraigned in a Multnomah County Court.”

Authorities say this man, 24-year-old Jason Allen Pine, was the victim of the homicide.

The cause of death was determined to be from “sharp force injuries”. “Yes, you could say the victim died as a result of being stabbed,” commented Detective Molly Dahl, who is in charge of the case. “We are continuing to investigate the motive and circumstances surrounding this incident, and what might have led to the homicide.”

Detective Dahl asks that anyone with information about the incident call her at (503) 823-0991.

The investigation continued into the evening hours – but just why this homicide took place, as of now, still remains a mystery.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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